Education, Connections, and Humpty Dumpty

Sometimes I feel like several different people when I talk or think about education.  Most of me can’t even begin to comprehend how anyone could not want to learn as much as possible, every passing moment.  Some of me can understand how a person can be too exhausted from the labor and stress of a typical day to even think about thinking.  And all of me wonders how people who hate everything about learning can remember to breathe.  Education is too important.  How can a person be too tired to live properly in the universe?

Turn off the TV and pick up a book.  Go outside and do things.  Look around – the world is a beautiful, fascinating place.   Play games.  Playing is learning.  Climb a tree.  TALK to each other.

I write about connections a lot.  Once a person of any age – and it can start in infancy – learns that everything in existence and out of it is connected, the learning will never end.  Things like nursery rhymes (which were not intended for small children, but that’s another topic.) connect to adult literature and history and sociology.  Did you really think Humpty Dumpty was an egg?  I’ve had students who didn’t know a single nursery rhyme, which makes me despise their parents, but that’s another topic, too.  (They were not in the top class, by the way.  Or the average class. Far from it.) Connections.

connections, education

 

Fairy tales (also never intended for small children) are also a wonderful connection to modern literature, history, and many other topics. (Not the Disney versions – the real ones.) Connections.

Humpty Dumpty, Battle of Colchester, cannon, king, not really an egg
. . . not really an egg. . . .

 

As for mythology. . . . well, connecting the dots from mythology to science to literature to music to poetry to everything else will give you great works of art, not just a hen and chicks, when you stop and take a good close look at the picture you’ve made by connecting.  Almost everything in the night sky is named for a mythological character, as are most of NASA’s spaceships and a great deal of scientific vocabulary.  Oh, and a great deal of every other kind of vocabulary, too.  Connections.

connections, education

 

I know there are people who care nothing for learning.  They come home from work or school and sit in front of the TV and cherish their mindless, effortless evenings.  It’s beyond my comprehension.  I’m so sorry for their children – the children who will come to school with no connectable schema – no prior knowledge.  It’s hard to learn anything without something to tie it to.  Shame on these parents.

turn off the TV, education

Educators owe it to the universe to try harder with these poor neglected children, to give them a base on which they can start making the connections necessary to become a learner – an educated person who is curious about the world and never stops trying to find out “why.”

There is no such thing as a subject that exists only unto itself.  Everything is connected to everything else.  You know something about everything.  YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT EVERYTHING.  Just think about that.

contented cowsPlacid contentment is a good thing only if you’re a cow.

ONLY if you’re a cow.

Presley from Act Out Games Loves the Spangler Science Club

One of our very favorite fellow YouTubers, ActOutGames, has reviewed several hot toys and kit of the month subscription boxes.

They have even honored us with several reviews of Sick Science kits and Spangler Science Club.

We always look forward to every video that Presley and her dad produce and really enjoy their reviews. Here’s Presley’s review of the January Spangler Science Club kit. Her excitement and enthusiasm for science is the reason we come to work every day.

Presley also reviewed the December kit –

Presley is truly a rock star, but don’t take our word for it. Check out her YouTube channel, ActOutGames and watch her videos on DIY, education, Cosplay and even Japanese Anime lessons! This kid is the complete package.

Don’t Miss Your Best Chance to Study Electrostatics

By Christy McGuire, ThrivingSTEM.com

For those of us who live in the United States it is winter time right now.  Most people think about snow as the main scientific aspect of winter.  Some may even think about the increase in darkness.  However, for most of us, winter also means your best chance to do electrostatics and have your demonstration actually work.

StudyElectrostaticsSquare-McGuire

Electrostatics are all those cool demonstrations where you remove the electrons from one object and then the other object wants to stick to it. You can then send the electrons back, creating mini-lightning. Electrostatics are also responsible for the phenomenon of hat hair.

I am sure some of you know the joke about biology stinking,  chemistry exploding, and physics failing.  Electrostatic experiments are super cool, but they can also be particularly prone to failure.  The main culprit is usually extra humidity.  Extra water molecules hanging around will ruin your experiment because those polar water molecules attract extra electrons to hang out with them instead of going to the object of your choice.  That means that the potential difference that should have been created by the electron imbalance may be too small to do anything impressive in your demonstration.

The amount of water that the air can carry decreases with temperature.  Colder air, is often dryer than it would be if it were warm.  Hot air can also be dry, but cold air has to be dry. That’s why your electrostatic experiments will be at their best now, in the winter.  Of course, if you live in Florida, that may be a bit different, but at least it will not be raining every day, so I would still pull out your toys and give them a try if I were you!

Ready but not sure quite what to do?

Here are some ideas.  You will notice that Van der Graaf generators are conspicuously missing. I do not have access to one right now, but if you do and you have a great post about, please link it up in the comments. Most of these are ideas are simple enough that you could have each student do their own.  You could then assign each student to teach a family member how the demonstration works and why.

Ideas for electrostatic demonstrations

Attraction

Steve Spangler uses a charge of static electricity to make objects float with Floating Static Bands.

The Rebecca at the Kids Activities Blog lists four different demonstrations that can be done with balloons.

You could add some fun with paper frogs like they did at Science Sparks or a Snake, Kids Activities Blog.

Schooling a Monkey recommends using a comb. 

This electroscope from education.com could be calibrated to allow your students to do some experimentation and numerical analysis.

I think this butterfly from I Heart Crafty Things is my favorite though!

Electrostatic Discharge (AKA “lightning”)

This demonstration from Raising Life Long Learners is really simple to prepare.

Learn Play Imagine has another demonstration that would probably be pretty impressive and save you the need to find a dark room, or to take your class into one.

 

Happy Experimenting!

Christy McGuire is a trained physics teacher who loves developing new ways for students to engage with science.  While taking a break from the high school classroom, Christy rediscovered that young children are tons of fun, and can learn powerful science and math too.  Now she is attempting to cross the excitement of early childhood style learning with serious STEM study to benefit students on both ends of the learning process.    Find activities and reflections on STEM learning on her blog: www.ThrivingSTEM.com.

Spangler Science Has Awesome Pinterest Boards!

Do you need ideas for the science fair?  Spangler Science has a board for that!

Find great ideas for your science fair project!
Find great ideas for your science fair project!

Are you looking for specific grade levels for activities for your students or your own kids?  Spangler Science has a board for every grade level, from kindergarten through high school!  And of course, science doesn’t really have an age limit, so be sure to browse all our grade level boards!

This is your brain, before and after a brisk walk!
This is your brain, before and after a brisk walk!

Did you know that your kitchen is a science laboratory?  Cooks are using chemistry every day in there!

Those eggs change when heat is applied.  That's science!
Those eggs change when heat is applied. That’s science!

Spangler Science has a Pinterest board for holidays.  Spangler Science has a Pinterest board for math, and literature, and art, and history.  Whatever you are looking for, you will probably find on a Spangler Science Pinterest board!

Hey, we even have a Pinterest board for creative school lunches!

What kid wouldn't love to find this in his/her lunchbox?
What kid wouldn’t love to find this in his/her lunchbox?

The point here is that Spangler Science Pinterest boards cover pretty much anything you could possibly be seeking for your students and for your own children.  And for yourself – our stuff is pretty cool for any age!  We have much more than just science – we have EVERYTHING!

Come on over to the Spangler Science Pinterest Boards!  What are you waiting for?  Many of our boards are interactive, so what’s stopping you from sharing your own stuff with us?

Pinterest is a wonderful way for all of us – teachers, parents, scientists, EVERYONE – to share our ideas.

Our kids benefit greatly, and so do YOU.

 

 

Holiday Science: Long-Lasting Christmas Jelly Marbles Polymer

Our polymers are more than just awesome, great fun, beautiful, and educational, you know.  Our polymers are awesome, great fun, beautiful, educational, and long-lasting.

How long-lasting are they, you ask?  I really don’t know yet.  The polymers in this Christmas decoration are seven years old and still going strong.

Seven years old and still beautiful!
Seven years old and still beautiful!

What you see up there is a Christmas candy jar with about a tablespoon of Spangler Science’s Clear Jelly Marbles, about three drops of green food coloring, and a cup of plain tap water.  Don’t put the lid on the jar until the jelly marbles and water reach the top of the jar.  THEN put the lid on.  Once you put the lid on the jar, the marbles won’t grow any more because they need a little air to help them grow.  (Please notice that this jar has a lid that seals!  That’s important.)

It took these Jelly Marbles only a few hours to grow to the size I wanted them.  If I removed the jar’s lid and drained off the water, the polymer Jelly Marbles would shrink back down to the size of rock salt again, but they wouldn’t be “dead;” when I added water again, they would grow again.

Would they still be green?  Nope.  Not if I rinsed off the food coloring.  I could keep them their own clear, invisible-in-the-water selves, or I could drop in some red, or blue, or green again, or create my own colors by combining primary colors.  I could drop in an Easter egg color tablet. I could use a Spangler Science True Color Tablet.

True Color Fizzers

The point is, seven years ago I made a pretty and decorative Christmas decoration using some simple polymers – clear jelly marbles – some food coloring, and some water, and I’m still using that pretty and decorative Christmas decoration this Christmas.

At Spangler Science, you will find many products and ideas that you can use during almost any holiday time – simple ideas, simple projects, ideas you can use by yourself or with your family, even with young children.

 

 

 

Jane GoodwinJane Goodwin is a professor of expository writing at Ivy Tech Community College, a hands-on science teacher for College for Kids, a professional speaker and writer, and a social media liaison  for Steve Spangler Science.  She wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut, but gravity got the better of her.